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Monroe School Board: May 28, 2016
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MONROE - At a meeting April 25, the Monroe school board:

• Discussed the issue of open enrollment trends: Data provided by Business Administrator Ron Olson shows Monroe losing an increasing number of local students to other districts during the open enrollment periods over the last five years. While the number of students open enrolling in to Monroe has remained steady at about 97, students open enrolling out jumped by 30 in the 2013-14 school year and 27 the following year. Those open enrolling out, including Monroe students enrolled in virtual schools elsewhere, total 159 for next school year with a cost to the district of about $1.1 million. The largest proportion of these students choose to attend Juda, with 62 next year.

Hirsbrunner said Juda and other school districts have actively recruited students, and while Monroe decided against doing so in the past, "at some point, I really think that we're going to have to start doing a better job of recruiting and advertising."

School board president Bob Erb said the district needs to evaluate the problem from a strategic level. He said Monroe can provide more programs and opportunities to students than other area districts, using the MHS Performing Arts Center and one-on-one technology as examples.

Joe Monroe, director of pupil services, said some simple things could help, such as putting out a recruiting video on social media to attract more students. "It doesn't need to be necessarily all of a sudden this all-out assault on area districts, us-versus-them, but by us taking some of the assets and the tools that we already have available to us and making them available to others, I think we could take a large step forward," Monroe said.

• Recognized Jenny Bochar, library specialist and Monroe High School Performing Arts Center director, for winning the April Lamp of Learning Staff Excellence Award.

• Recognized board member Scott Schmidt, whose term ended this year. Schmidt was first appointed to the school board in 2001 and served a total of 15 years, with seven years as vice president and four years as president. "He's always been there, backing the district and doing what's best for students," Hirsbrunner said. Schmidt received a standing ovation from the audience.

• Administered the oath of office to board members Les Bieneman, Dan Bartholf and Rich Deprez, who were elected in the April 5 election.

• Approved the retirement of instructional staff member Rae Wellnitz, Monroe Middle School business and information technology.

• Accepted resignations of instructional staff members Stephanie Miller, MMS special education, and Curt Miller, MHS physical education.

• Authorized the hiring of new instructional staff members: Katelynn Coplien, Northside Elementary School fifth grade; Kyle Pronschinski, Northside third grade; Courtney Hawkinson, Parkside Elementary School special education; Alyssa Quinn, Abraham Lincoln elementary school first grade; Rachel Losselyong, Abraham Lincoln third grade; and Aaron Heim, Abraham Lincoln guidance counselor.

• Accepted donations: $50 from Mark and Jill Austin to the Backpack Buddies program; $100 from Daria Schwarzenberger to Backpack Buddies; $500 from Marilyn Workman to Backpack Buddies; $2,800 from Monroe Clinic; and a case of cheese sticks from Maple Leaf Cheese Factory for the recruiting fair.

• Approved the 2016 Board Scholarships recommended by the Board Scholarship Committee. A total of 73 students received almost $90,000 in scholarships this year. The scholarships are funded by donations through the Community Foundation, according to Hirsbrunner. Board members Brian Keith, Bob Erb and Amy Bazley abstained from the vote; each have children graduating this year.

• Approved Prairie Farms Dairy as the district's milk vendor for the 2016-17 school year.

• Chose Pan-O-Gold Bakeries as the district's bread vendor for the 2016-17 school year. The recommendation by Eric Ekum, director of food services, says the quality of Pan-O-Gold's bread is lower than the previous vendor's, but that Ekum has been working with the company to improve its quality. He recommended Pan-O-Gold because it offered a lower price than its competitor, saving the district almost $2,500 every year. "I will continue to work with them on quality as the school lunch program must financially break even," he wrote in the recommendation.

Board member Mary Berger was absent.

MONROE - At a meeting April 11, the Monroe school board:

• Accepted the resignations of instructional staff members Beth Miller, Northside third grade, and Linley Carlson, Abraham Lincoln second grade.

• Approved the retirement of support staff member Gary Phillips, MMS custodial coordinator.

• Accepted the resignation of Holly Storck-Post, Monroe Public Library youth services coordinator.

• Hired instructional staff member Lisa Schmitt, MHS guidance counselor.

• Approved final notices of non-renewal to be issued to six staff members, who were either a late hire or had licensure issues.

• Approved the 2016-17 teacher contracts.

Board members Michael Boehme, Bob Erb and Scott Schmidt were absent. Rich Deprez, whose term on the board had not yet started, attended the meeting as a member of the public as he had done for several meetings before the April 5 election.